Ugh. Student loans are the ultimate financial hangover.
Like beer at a tailgate, they’re easy to obtain and go down smoothly. Six months after graduation, however, the lenders come to collect with a price tag that’d make anyone want to curl up on the couch and kiss the world goodbye.
Since the pandemic began, nearly 44 million Americans have enjoyed a pause on their student loan payments. But that interest-free loan freeze ends on February 1, 2022, when the government lifts the moratorium and empowers loan servicers to effectively say, “Congrats on your degree. Now, pay up!”
To help you begin your journey, we’re going to explore three great ways to tackle student loan debt. But first, here’s a quick overview of the all-important financial stakes.
Most adults say video games turn brains into mush. But we think there’s something to be learned from them.
Take the video game “boss battles,” — like in Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda, or Halo Infinite. These are the nerve-wracking moments where you, the hero, must take down the “big bad,” a villain of epic proportions.
But to do so, you also have to battle against his minions — which are typically greater in number and often more of a nuisance. Once you smite the head boss, however, the smaller enemies immediately vanish. The same skirmish is waged over student loans. For starters, you have your Principal Balance. That’s the big boss in the video game — the total amount you owe to your lenders.
For the purposes of this blog, we’ll set that principal balance at $50,000.
Unfortunately, there’s an even nastier foe you must fight beyond the $50,000: interest. Over time, like an army of grunts or orcs or goblins, interest can become as bad as the principal itself. Interest can keep you from ever nullifying the outstanding balance in the first place.
That’s why people like Linda Navarro, a graduate who borrowed $20,000 in 1990 now owes $212,544. Thanks to compound interest — what Albert Einstein dubbed the 8th wonder of the world — Linda’s debt has ballooned so high that she admits, “There’s a real fear in dying in this.”
We’re on a mission here, and the mission is to get out of debt as fast as possible. You don’t need to be a hero; you just need somewhere to start.
Let’s get after it.
Compound interest is a killer. While it can be tempting to pay the minimum monthly amount — whether on a credit card or a student loan — doing so trades short-term convenience for long-term debt.
If you can swing it, always aim to pay more than the minimum.
For example, let’s say you have a $50,000 outstanding balance — at an 8% interest rate — with a standard 10-year repayment term. If the minimum payment was $600, it would take about eleven years — and $23,200 in accrued interest — to become debt-free.
However, if you paid just $100 more than the minimum — $700 — you would become debt-free two years faster and save over $5,000 in interest along the way.
Want to learn more? Click here to explore your options with this student loan calculator.
This probably isn’t what you wanted to hear, but we’re going to put it out there; if you can make a few extra payments per year, your future self will thank you!
We’re not talking about bi-monthly payments here, but if you can manage to make an extra payment every three months or so, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
If you get a bonus, receive a tax refund in April or May, or get a substantial financial gift from a family member or friend, consider putting those resources towards an extra loan payment rather than spending the money on vanity items or a trip.
These are often regarded as “lump sum payments.” If they were in a video game, they’d be called cheat codes, because they help save borrowers a ton of money.
Let’s continue with our example above ($50,000 balance, 8% interest, $600 monthly minimum payment). If you paid a lump sum of $5,000 in addition to your monthly payments, you would reduce your debt repayment period by 18 months and save $5,632.
Not bad, right?
Click here to check out the lump sum extra payment calculator.
Note: if you do decide to make an extra payment, be sure to inform your student loan provider that you want it to go exclusively towards your principal balance — rather than to next month’s payment. After all, extra payments are so powerful because they limit the amount of interest your principal can accrue.
As the student loan moratorium comes to an end, student loan refinancing commercials are on the rise.
Companies like SoFi and Laurel Road know that millions of borrowers need help, and so they’re broadcasting via mail, TV, social media, and everything in between.
Their services are truly worth investigating. Student loan refinancing is probably the fastest way to lower your student loan rate and get out from the shadow of interest.
Refinancing rates have been hovering near an all-time low with an average fixed rate of 3.35% for 10-year loans and a variable interest rate of 2.41% for the 5-year term. Let’s put these numbers to the test. We already know that $50,000 at 8% interest costs about $23,000 in interest over ten years.
But let’s say we refinanced those loans and lowered the interest rate to 4% — just to play it safe. How much was saved? Nearly $13,000.
The student loan mountain is an uphill climb, but with these strategies, you’ll reach the debt-free summit before long. At Flyp, we’re here to help you along your financial journey.
With no hidden fees, no overdraft fees, and a growing list of awesome rewards, our debit card can help you achieve your financial goals — both big and small.
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Nova, Annie. “Navient Will No Longer Service Federal Student Loans. What That Means for Borrowers.” CNBC. CNBC, September 29, 2021. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/29/what-to-do-if-navient-was-servicing-your-federal-student-loans-.html.
Sheffey, Ayelet. “Older People Are Giving up Hope of Paying off Their Student Loans before They Die: ‘There’s a Real Fear in Dying in This’.” Business Insider. Business Insider, May 9, 2021. https://www.businessinsider.com/student-debt-relief-cancelation-seniors-older-americans-loan-repayment-2021-4.
Giovanetti, Erika. “Student Loan Borrowers Can Potentially Save $5K by Refinancing as Interest Rates Set Record Lows.” Fox Business. Fox Business, December 10, 2021. https://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/student-loan-refinancing-rates-low-calculate-savings.